The Autumn Statement – is it a missed opportunity to tackle retirement housing shortage?
Peter Girling, Chairman of Girlings Retirement Rentals – the UK’s largest retirement rental company comments:
While housing wasn’t the main focus of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement there were some interesting announcements. George Osborne confirmed that planned housing developments that had been put on hold during the recession will receive a new lease of life with a £225m injection of cash which may see 50,000 new homes come onto the market.
The plan to invest in 50,000 homes is in addition to plans to build thousands of extra homes announced by the chancellor earlier this year. Overall, the Chancellor confirmed that 120,000 new homes will be built. However, it is questionable whether this is necessary considering that an estimated 8 million homes are currently under occupied.
The Chancellor also pledged an extra £120 million to review the building of flood defences to protect homes from flooding and unlock sites for development. Many of us have seen the impact of the horrendous flooding in recent weeks. In the South West like many parts of the UK, we were badly affected .
However, I feel the Chancellor missed a prime opportunity to talk about the building of retirement homes. The UK is facing an acute shortage of suitable properties for retired people – this was also an issue raised in the “HAPPI 2″ report released this month by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and care for Older People, which highlighted the benefits of providing improved housing options for older people.
Lord Best yesterday raised the issue of the lack of retirement properties in parliament arguing that the solution to maximising the use of land for development is to build retirement homes. He referenced the report which found that 85,000 homes for older people would lead to 400,000 people being housed because of the increase in the number of three to four bedroom houses that would become available when they move.
It is a shame that Mr Osborne couldn’t have addressed this in his statement. We can only hope that Lord Best takes the findings of his report forward and we will start to see retirement housing on the main agenda next year.